Special Education M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Koel-Turner, Charlene


In 2012, more than six million students in the United States were identified as having an educational disability and receiving special education services. Students with disabilities are more likely than their general education peers to experience low grades, class failure, and suspensions. Positive student-teacher relationships have been associated with increased academic achievement and school connectedness, as well as associated with decreased negative behaviors. Research indicates that students value teachers who are caring, accessible to students, open and honest, and display a sense of humor. Through this literature review and application materials, the following reviews the impact of student-teacher relationships and factors that may impact such relationships. Specifically, this paper reviews several ways to establish positive student-teacher relationships including developing an ecological perspective to see students it a wider context by targeting pre-service teacher preparation programs, and looking at individual teacher approaches to discipline and communication. Factors impacting the student-teacher relationship are also reviewed, looking at ways that student perceptions of teacher behavior can create barriers to or pave pathways toward positive student-teacher relationships. Finally, some international factors are considered, drawing parallels between practices in Turkey, Botswana, Ghana, Bangladesh, and the United States.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis